Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wok Wednesdays | Vinegar Glazed Chicken & Shanghainese-Style Stir-Fried [Lima] Beans

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young

Vinegar Glazed Chicken

I feel the saying "you had me at . . ." is way overused and I have avoided it (I think) - until now. The title alone had me wanting to make this immediately!! And why there isn't a photo in the book is beyond me - it is a most gorgeous looking stir-fry.

Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Scallions, ginger, garlic, dried red chili peppers
Bowl 2: Chicken, dark soy sauce, soy sauce, dry sherry, sugar, cornstarch, Sichuan peppercorns, salt
Bowl 3: Sesame oil, dark soy, soy sauce, dry sherry
Bowl 4: Balsamic vinegar

This dish is traditionally made with red chili peppers that I have used here, however in the book, red pepper flakes are called for to make things easier. I only used three peppers for this recipe, I easily could have added more for there was not much heat - not sure how old my dried peppers were. When using whole peppers, make sure to snip one of the ends off so that the seeds of the pepper disperse throughout the stir-fry.

Grace calls for Chinkiang vinegar, which she says adds a great depth of flavor, but balsamic (which I used) she says is a great alternative.

The accidental plating. Lucky for me the sauce splattered this way! (Well, there was a blob on the other side as well, which I wiped clean.) I couldn't have made it happen this way if I tried. 

Not only does this look good, but it tastes good too. To me, it even had an inkling of barbecued flavor to it at first bite. Another member of our group mentioned her hubby thought it tasted slightly like bacon!

This . . . is another winner folks.

Shanghainese-Style Stir-Fried [Lima] Beans

I was feeling this needed a little flair - in the end it probably didn't really need anything at all. But my idea of adding a little Pickapeppa sauce sounded like a good idea at the time. As you can see, the sauce started to "bleed" into the beans almost immediately. Hmmm, maybe two or three slices of cherry tomato on top would be cute - or nothing - depending on how you serve it up - molded and chilled, or warm, straight from the wok.

 Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Pickled cabbage
Bowl 2: Lima beans
Bowl 3: Chicken broth
Bowl 4: Sugar, salt

This is an odd stir-fry to say the least. It wasn't easy stir-frying mashed beans - they just wanted to stay in one big clumpy mass and stick to my chuan (wok spatula). I just had to keep scraping the beans off and pressing down and dragging the chuan across them to incorporate everything.

I found the pickled cabbage at a store in Oakland's Chinatown (wish I can remember which one - it was the last store I was going to look at before giving up). Of course I tried to find them at my local stores, even 99 Ranch, our local Asian grocer to no avail - the other stores may have had this - but if they had the Chinese label showing, I would have had no clue. At least now I know what to look for.

The recipe calls for fresh fava beans - which here in California do not come into season until late January (if you're lucky) or February according to the vendor at the farmer's market. I may have been able to find frozen fava beans at 99 Ranch, but I never made it over there.

We actually enjoyed this. Andy liked it a lot actually - he said it made him feel like he was eating clean; "clean" eating can be a put-off for some - but this was tasty - not knock-your-socks off tasty like I'm accustomed to with recipes from this book, but it was good. Andy says he would even eat this a couple times a week.

I'm glad I purchased two cans of the pickled cabbage, for I will definitely make this again when fresh fava beans are in season come next year.

These two recipes can be found on pages 136 & 227 of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge.


We as a group have agreed not to post the recipes on our blogs. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Wok Wednesdays | Stir-Fried Shiitake Mushrooms with Dried Scallops

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young

This special occasion dish received high marks throughout our group; here are a few words from our members describing this stir-fry: intense, special, rich flavor, decadent, a umami bomb!

Dried scallops are considered a delicacy in China.

The scallops get a soaking for about an hour or more until they are softened and easily shredded.

 Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Shallots
Bowl 2: Shiitake mushrooms
Bowl 3: White pepper
Bowl 4: Chicken broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce, reserved scallop liquid
Bowl 5: Scallops

This stir-fry is the specialty of Grace's friend George Chew, who serves this at his New Year's Eve celebrations.

As I mentioned, this was a big hit amongst our members; not so much for us though. Sorry Grace and George!! At first bite I thought it had really good flavor, then a fishy aftertaste kicked in which lingered . . . all night long.

Maybe it was the quality of the scallops? Just how does one tell what they are getting as evidenced below.

A word of caution:

Susan, a fellow wokker recommends avoiding this brand like the plague. She purchased these at an Asian market near her for $12.99 for six ounces (the price may have been a clue - for dried scallops can easily go for up to and more than $100 a pound!) She said they never softened as they should after soaking, and they had a rubbery texture and nasty taste. So beware!

If you go to a Chinatown as I did, you will find shops with scallops in very large jars filled to the rim in assorted sizes and prices. The good thing in making a special trip, you can purchase the quantity needed so there is no waste.

We even have a member, Bob, who dried his own! That is one way to make sure you're getting top quality. Want to know how to make your own dried scallops? Join or FB page and type in "scallops" in the search box and scroll through until you come upon Patti's (Bob) post for drying scallops, or just do a Google search. :)

This recipe can be found on page 215 of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge.


We as a group have agreed not to post the recipes on our blogs. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wok Wednesdays | Stir-Fried Baby Bok Choy with Sichuan Pepper and Salt

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young

 Such a simple and beautiful stir-fry.

 Baby bok choy.

Shanghai baby bok choy (source).

Shanghai baby bok choy is most commonly found in our grocery stores. It has smoother, lighter green leaves and pale green stalks. The bok choy I used, I found at my local Asian market.  Either variant will work in this stir-fry.

 Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Ginger
Bowl 2: Carrot
Bowl 3: Baby bok choy
Bowl 4: Salt, Sichuan peppercorn
Bowl 5: Chicken broth, dry sherry, cornstarch

This stir-fry takes all about three minutes (if that) to cook; stir-frying continues to amaze me.

The ginger slices are sautéed first, then the carrots are added and given a quick swirl around the wok. Next up is the bok choy, salt and peppercorns, these are stir-fried for about a minute before the broth is swirled in and the mixture briefly steamed, and I do mean briefly - for a whole thirty seconds! Then the vegetables are stir-fried for a short time more - just until the bok choy is crisp-tender. And there you have it!

I actually made this twice. The first time I found it too oily. I should have went with my instinct to not add the remaining oil at the time the bok choy went in. My wok still had a good sheen of oil going on at this point.

The second round, the wok started to look a bit dry shortly before the bok choy was ready, so I added a few sprinkles of oil (maybe a teaspoon?) at that time. Much better result for me.

This recipe can be found on page 189 of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge.

We as a group have agreed not to post the recipes on our blogs. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Wok Wednesdays | Stir-Fried Eggs with Velvet Shrimp

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young

My original plan was to make this for breakfast; but who am I fooling - there is no time in the am for the whole photo shoot bit. So dinner it was! And just as well, for Andy said he would not want this for breakfast. Me, I would; and I just may make it again for my breakfast the next time he is out of town.

Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Ginger, scallion
Bowl 2: Shrimp, egg white, cornstarch, dry sherry, salt, oil
Bowl 3: Peas
Bowl 4: Egg, dry sherry, salt, white pepper

I love a good stir-fry that uses minimal dishes and cooks in under three minutes! (Take note: there is half an hour of hands-free time for the shrimp to marinate (refrigerated), and to come to room temperature.)

I should have let my shrimp cook a little longer before adding the egg mixture. My eggs were not as creamy as they should have been because I was concerned the shrimp was not cooked all the way through, and cooked them a bit longer than instructed. The eggs were delicious anyhow - loved the flavor the white pepper and dry sherry lent to the eggs - I'm going to have to add these two ingredients to my normal scrambled eggs from now on - so good.

I was a bit concerned this was not going to be enough for the two of us, being there is only a quarter-pound of shrimp being used. In the end it turned out to be the perfect amount served alongside some jasmine rice.

The recipe can be found on page 127 of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, and I also found it over on Cookistry's website.


We as a group have agreed not to post the recipes on our blogs. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Wok Wednesdays | Stir-Fried Edamame with Pickled Cucumbers

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young

Soybeans . . .  considered to be one of the five sacred grains of China; featured here in a most delicious side-dish. The recipe, courtesy of the influential Florence Lin, cookbook author and former teacher in Chinese cooking.

 Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Ginger
Bowl 2: Edamame
Bowl 3: Pickled cucumber
Bowl 4: Chicken broth
Bowl 5: Salt

The ginger gets a quick stir around the wok, then the edamame is added and stir-fried for a minute or two, at which time the cucumber is added and continues to cook for a short time more. Next the broth and salt are added and everything is mixed together until combined.

(For the complete recipe, see page 234 of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge.)

This recipe uses Chinese pickled cucumber - different from our Western-style pickles; these are cucumbers that have been pickled in a mixture of sugar, water, soy sauce, and monosodium glutamate (MSG) - depending on the brand, you may be able to find it without the MSG.

If you do not have access to the Chinese pickled cucumber, Florence says you can sub in the Western pickle, as long as it was not pickled in vinegar - and Grace, she will toss them in some soy sauce and sugar to help replicate the flavor of the Chinese version.

This effortless and tasty stir-fry comes together in mere minutes. I loved the deep, slightly spicy flavor and crunch of the pickled cucumbers, which made a nice contrast to the sweet, tender edamame. Grace mentions in the book that this can be served hot, room temp, or chilled - me, I preferred it straight from the wok, though chilled was good too.

Thank you Grace and Florence for such a delicious recipe! This will be one I hope to repeat time and time again; and I'm off to a good start - for I have already made it once more - for my lunch the following day.

If you are interested, here is a lovely article with Florence Lin and Cecelia Chiang (another grande dame in Chinese cooking).

The recipe can be found on page 234 of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, by Grace Young.


We as a group have agreed not to post the recipes on our blogs. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wok Wednesdays | Chicken Chow Fun

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young


I had way better success with this recipe than I did when I made the Beef Chow Fun, where I had unfavorable results with the noodles. It certainly helps to have the right stuff. :)

 Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Salt
Bowl 2: Fresh rice noodles
Bowl 3: Ginger, garlic
Bowl 4: Chicken, garlic, ginger, dry sherry, oyster sauce, soy sauce, cornstarch, pepper
Bowl 5: Dry sherry
Bowl 6: Bok choy, shiitake mushrooms
Bowl 7: Chicken broth, sesame oil, oyster sauce, soy sauce, cornstarch

The recipe calls for a one pound sheet of rice noodles to be cut into half-inch-wide strips.  I was fortunate enough to find them pre-cut.

The noodles are stir-fried in salted oil - salt that is added to the oil in the wok - this disperses the salt more evenly than if you sprinkled it over the noodles, says Raymond Leong who taught Grace this recipe; as well as requiring less salt by doing it this way, according to Joyce Jue, a Southeast Asian chef.

The noodles are cooked just until they achieve a crusty layer, then they are removed from the wok and set aside while the rest of the ingredients are stir-fried.

The noodles can be plated and topped with the vegetable mixture as Mr Leong does, or as I did - adding the noodles back to the wok and mixing all together; this way all the noodles are sure to get coated with some of the sauce.

This recipe can be found on page 277 of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, by Grace Young.


We as a group have agreed not to post the recipes on our blogs. 


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wok Wednesdays | Stir-Fried Squid with Black Bean Sauce

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young

I'm beginning to think I need to change the title of my blog to Wok This Way or something, for the last ten posts have been a WW recipe. One day I'll get back to cooking from the many cookbooks that I own. Maybe.

There is an ongoing joke amongst the WW members about snow peas. This is the second recipe from Chef Danny Chan where he has specified an exact amount of snow peas to use (twelve for this recipe), rather than by weight.

Using extra snow peas (as I have done here, and I know your counting them Bob - to clarify, I halved the recipe) or deviating from a recipe in other ways, has earned a member or two (or three), the chastening of wearing their wok on their heads, and the embarrassment (or not) of posting a photo of such on our group FB page.

 (photo used with permission )

The above photo reflects the punishment for a dried chili infraction; though he has also been placed on probation for a snow pea violation.

I'm thankful Danny did not make us count out the frozen peas he uses in his Hong-Kong-Style Silky Stir-Fried Minced Beef recipe. They're may have been even more of us wearing the wok!

 Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Garlic, scallion, fermented black beans
Bowl 2: Onion, ginger
Bowl 3: Red bell pepper
Bowl 4: Salt, pepper
Bowl 5: Dry sherry
Bowl 6: Squid (blanched), snow peas
Bowl 7: Chicken broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce, dark soy sauce
Bowl 8: Sesame oil, cornstarch, chicken broth

The blanched squid.

I think I like cooking squid more than I like eating it. It becomes so artistic looking after its bath.

Here is a photo from an older post - showing what cleaned squid looks like, before prepping it for a stir-fry.

You need to set aside a little extra time to prepare the squid for stir-frying. If you are unable to get pre-cleaned squid as I did, here is a great tutorial on Food52 on how to clean it yourself.

After the squid has been cleaned, the tentacles are cut into bite-size pieces (I just left them whole, myself), and the bodies are cut in half lengthwise and gently scored with a crosshatch pattern on the inside, then cut into 1 1/2-inch squares. The squid is quickly parboiled for ten seconds, just until it curls; now it's ready for stir-frying.

Once the squid is prepped, this stir-fry is quick to get on the table. The beans, scallion and garlic are added to the wok first and stir-fried just until fragrant. Add the ginger and onions, stir until the onions start to wilt, then the bell pepper, and s&p is added and cooked until they start to soften. The rice wine is added and stirred in, then the squid, snow peas, and soy sauce mixture is added and tossed until the peas turn bright green. Swirl in the cornstarch mixture and stir until the squid is just cooked.

Be careful as to not overcook the squid, for it can become tough if you do. 

This was enjoyed by other members of our group, though not so much by me; sorry, Grace (said with a scrunched face). The squid came out tender, and I loved the texture of the vegetables; the flavor just did not wow me - which surprised me, for I love the taste that fermented black beans lend to a dish (as in the Stir-fried Chicken with Black Bean Sauce), and the sauce components... broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil - and garlic and ginger! I don't understand... maybe my taste buds were off this evening; or even it could have been the fact I hadn't tasted it until after it was reheated. I made it early on (an hour or so) for the best possible lighting. I reheated it ever so gently in the wok, as to not overcook the squid - I'm guessing that may have had an effect on the taste.

As I said, this was enjoyed by others in our group - if you would like to give it a go yourself, the recipe can be found at  The Global Gourmet or on page 170 of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, by Grace Young.

I think we have only eight more recipes before we are done wokking our way through Sky. But stay tuned, for there's talk about moving on with one of Grace's other books. So you can still join in on the fun ~ it's quite the lively bunch over at Wok Wednesdays.


We as a group have agreed not to post the recipes on our blogs.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wok Wednesdays | Yangchow Fried Rice

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young

This is my new favorite. Unbelievably simple, healthy, and delicious! 

Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Shrimp
Bowl 2: Rice, peas
Bowl 3: Ham, scallions
Bowl 4: Salt, white pepper

I was skeptical while making this stir-fry - with no seasonings other than salt and white pepper - and as hard as it was, I did refrain from adding that little bit of garlic, and soy sauce that is typical of fried rice recipes. 

This took me by surprise - it really was full of flavor - no other seasonings are needed, and the white pepper added the perfect amount of heat. No wonder in China, Yangchow fried rice is prized for its clean and fresh flavors (perfect description btw). I have said before, simple can be best, and it rings true with this recipe.

This was so simple to prepare: the shrimp is stir-fried in a small amount of oil just until it turns color, add a little more oil, and the rice and peas, stir until heated through, throw in the ham, scallions, and seasonings, mix all together, and it's done. A most delicious meal in mere minutes.

This also would be utterly delicious made Catonese style, with Chinese barbecued pork in place of the ham. 

Do give this recipe a try; you'll be missing out if you don't.

We as a group do not post the recipes on our blogs, but lucky for you, the recipe is published on Fine Cooking's website, and of course, you can always find it on page 259 of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, by Grace Young.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Wok Wednesdays | Chinese Jamaican Stir-Fried Chicken with Chayote

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young

A most delicious stir-fry! Served with rice, you have yourself a complete meal. 

The recipe calls for two not so ordinary ingredients: Pickapeppa Sauce and Chayote (pronounced Chahy-oh-tee or Chī'ōdē) squash, which also goes by the names of vegetable pear, christophene, chocho and mirlton. Depending on what article you read, it is either a fruit or vegetable. I'm sticking with fruit.

 Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Chicken, dark soy sauce, garlic, cornstarch, salt, oil
Bowl 2: Onions
Bowl 3: Salt
Bowl 4: Chayote
Bowl 5: Water
Bowl 6: Pickapeppa Sauce, ketchup
Bowl 7: Salt

This stir-fry begins by adding the chicken to the wok first, which is allowed to sear and stir-fried briefly before it is removed from the wok (to be added back in later). Oil is added to the wok with a bit of salt and the chayote - this is stir-fried for a short time, and then some water is added, the wok is covered for about five seconds, uncovered, stirred, and covered again until the chayote is crisp-tender. The chicken is added back in along with the sauce mixture and a bit more salt, and stir-fried just until the chicken is cooked through. Yep, that simple.


I have purchased chayote at my local grocery in the past, however, this time, I had to make a trip to 99 Ranch, my local Asian market. If you can't find chayote, you could substitute zucchini; though I may skip or shorten the time of the steaming portion of the recipe, for zucchini is pretty tender from the start, whereas chayote is crisp like an apple, as I prefer my vegetables on the firmer side.

I found it easier to peel the chayote after slicing it in half and giving it a quick rinse with water (it can be slippery); I was able to get a better grip on it, and also able to get to more of the skin in the creases at the top.

The Pickapeppa Sauce (aka Jamaican ketchup), I did not even check my local markets for, and went straight to World Market, knowing I had seen it there before. Other members mentioned they did find it at their Safeway and Ralphs supermarkets - so maybe it is not so uncommon after all.

This sauce tasted to me, a lot like A-1 steak sauce with a dose of vinegar. However, mixed with ketchup and stir-fried along with the other ingredients, it had a totally different flavor - nothing at all like steak sauce.

Andy said this was another A+ meal; and on his second helping he voiced "this is way good.."

It is said that the seed of the chayote is a delicacy in Mexico. So of course I had to give it a try. The seed was very tender, with a "green" flavor, almost grass-like; it was just OK - not something I would have a hankering for in the future.

(Update: to clarify, I ate the seed raw, Grace informed me that it should be cooked.)

I did have an extra chayote that I used for making this raw, light, crisp salad for my lunch. I came across a recipe on Canadian Living, that used a very simple citrus (lime) vinaigrette to toss partially cooked chayote in, along with some cilantro. I chose not to boil the chayote, and just sliced it very thin with a mandoline. Raw chayote is crisp like an apple, with a very mild flavor - similar to a cucumber, sans the sweetness.

Check out the following links for more information on this interesting fruit:

We have been asked not to post the recipes here on our blog. You will find the recipe on page 133 of  Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, which you can purchase at your local bookstore or find at your local library.